When you are choosing your college major, considering what to study, or thinking about what career to aim for, music may not be your first choice. You might not even be considering it as a viable career option even if you love music.
As long as you have an interest in music in some way then there are plenty of reasons why you could consider this path for your future career. Of course, your initial thoughts will probably be about being a musician but there are many more options in the world of music than being a pop star.
Why you should consider music as a career option
Depending on what area you would be looking to work in you don’t need to be musically minded. Of course, a love of music will help and will also make your career more enjoyable and interesting. However, if you wanted to get into management or finance you could work in the music industry without even going near an instrument.
The music business or industry is littered with options for people who want to work creatively or just be connected with music in some way. Necessary qualifications and starting salaries for graduates or entry-level jobs will depend on the position. Below you can see some of the options and how to get your foot in the door.
What roles are available in the music world?
There are plenty of choices when it comes to choosing your career and the decision you take will come down to the skills and qualifications you have along with your passion. Here are some of the choices available:
- Sound engineer
- Music journalist
- Music management
- Tour manager
- Session musician
- Music teacher
- Record store owner/manager
- Record company receptionist
- Marketing and SEO
If you want to work in some way with music then the choices are varied. However, if you are looking for a career then you will be looking at specific areas. Here are some roles that can lead to fulfilling careers with music.
Being a music teacher doesn’t mean that you will be in a classroom singing nursery rhymes all day. This can be a very rewarding role that can lead to many options. You will need to get a Bachelor’s degree in music education from a reputable school such as the top-ranking Australian universities. Afterward, there may be an internship, state exams – depending on which region you are in – and you need to obtain a teaching certificate.
There are additional courses online that can help too. For instance, if you have a Bachelor’s degree in teaching but not in music you may be able to take additional studies to allow you to teach music without taking another degree. Some music teacher courses are available online too.
Once you become able to teach then you can study your options. Music teachers can work in various areas including these:
- Universities and colleges
- Private schools
- Music conservatory
- From home or privately
And, apart from the locations available, there are also different areas that a qualified music teacher can work in. They can be employed as a vocal coach, instrumental coach, District supervisor of music, or move into coaching performers.
Become a session musician
If you are skilled as a musician then you could look at being a session musician. The benefits of this are that if you are talented and build up a reputation you can be regularly employed and work with many different artists.
You will need to network and advertise yourself to get your name known. Platforms such as Soundcloud are useful for promoting yourself and letting people see and hear you play. And, you need to practice. If you are just starting then practice and use all the resources you can. Use websites and music education platforms to practice chords, guitar and lyrics by uploading tracks and then seeing how the music is laid out. Learn more than one instrument or be extremely good at one so you will develop a reputation.
Contacting studios and making friends in the industry will help and getting known for being professional and working well will help you in the long run but at the start, you will need to be patient. Unlike a music teacher who can study and then look for full-time positions, you will need to wait for jobs to come along sometimes.
Interning at a record company
If you wanted to work for a record company but not actually be a musician then an internship is one way in. Interning for a record company means adding real-world work experience to your degree studies.
You will get the chance to work in different areas including marketing, advertising, promotion, licensing, and artist development. This can be invaluable for anyone looking to forge a career in the music industry later.
Is it possible to make a career as a musician?
As you have seen above it is possible to be a successful session musician but if you want to make your own music then it is more difficult. There are thousands of failed artists who never got their break or perhaps were just not good enough. Some artists just get overlooked no matter how great they are. If you want to be a musician then you need to practice. Find places that you can perform live even if it is busking. Use software and websites to learn covers and Bruno Mars chords and other artist’s songs too. Write and perform your own songs, build up a portfolio and show it off on Soundcloud and Youtube. With talent and perseverance some luck you might get noticed.
There are other creative ways to work in the music industry if you are talented though.
Other avenues for creating music
If you can create music or write then consider TV, movies, advertising, and video games. These areas all need original music and video games are one area that you could consider making a career in. You will need to understand digital audio workstations and how to compose music. You will need to be productive as games may need a lot of music produced quite quickly, and at the beginning, it is important to understand you will start small. It is likely you may start by making sound effects and working for indie games but by building up a portfolio you will hopefully move up to scoring soundtracks for blockbusters.
Qualifications needed to work in the music business
This will completely depend on what you are looking to achieve. If you want to work as a receptionist for a record company then personal qualities will be more important than a degree. If you wanted to work in music business finance, however, you would need to gain a finance or accountancy degree.
Other areas such as music management may not need any formal qualifications at all. In fact, a band may prefer their manager has real experience and knowledge of the music industry over any college degree.
The music industry is very accessible for someone looking to start a career depending on which route you take. You could run your own band nights in a local venue and end up managing a group this way or study for a degree and get into music marketing or become a teacher. There are many legitimate work positions and it depends really on whether you want music to play a part in your future career.